Do Police Determine Who is at Fault for a Traffic Crash in Fort Lauderdale?

Motor vehicle accidents, regardless of their circumstances, carry financial and emotional burdens. Serious injuries can result, which leads to medical bills and other damage you and your family have to deal with. In these situations, it’s crucial to understand your legal options. However, your legal options hinge on one thing: liability. Thus, it’s necessary to figure out who is at fault. There are a number of ways this can be done, one of which usually involves the police and their accident reports.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, our skilled Fort Lauderdale motor vehicle accident lawyers at Cowen Edwards can help you. We’ll assess your situation, navigate the legal process, and support you in securing the financial support you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Who is Legally Responsible For a Motor Vehicle Accident in Fort Lauderdale?

In Fort Lauderdale and throughout Florida, legal responsibility for motor vehicle accidents–also known as liability–hinges on the concept of negligence. In simpler terms, this establishes who is at fault. Negligence, then, is extremely important in any motor vehicle accident. Generally, negligence has four elements:

  • Duty of care – A party was responsible for safely operating their vehicle to prevent harm to others.
  • Breach of duty – They failed to uphold this responsibility.
  • Causation – This breach of duty led to the accident in question.
  • Damages – Consequently, the accident resulted in your injuries and other losses.

While this establishes negligence, a number of different parties could potentially be at-fault and thus, responsible for covering your injuries and damages. While this depends on the circumstances of the accident, in a typical Fort Lauderdale motor vehicle accident, any of the following could be liable:

  • Another driver or passengers
  • Pedestrians
  • Motorcycle or bicycle riders
  • Vehicle owners, if different from the driver
  • Employers, if the driver was operating a company vehicle
  • Government entities responsible for road maintenance (if road conditions played a role)
  • Manufacturers of defective vehicle parts

With liability split among so many different parties, it’s very important for your potential claim to figure out just who or what entity is responsible. At that point, you can begin the claims process. Before that, though, you’ll likely have to interact with the police who will be investigating the accident.

Role of the Police in a Fort Lauderdale Motor Vehicle Accident

Not surprisingly, local police play a crucial role in Fort Lauderdale motor vehicle accidents. With an overriding responsibility to serve citizens, they frequently assist after accidents, most notably  by doing the following:

  • Responding to the scene – Police officers are dispatched to the accident scene to provide immediate assistance, ensure public safety, and assess the situation.

  • Gathering information – They collect essential information, including driver details, vehicle information, and witness statements. This information is critical for accident reports.

  • Issuing tickets – If a driver violates traffic laws and causes the accident, the police may issue citations, which can be used as evidence in legal cases.

  • Assisting the injured – Police may arrange for medical assistance and ensure that injured parties receive necessary medical care.

  • Managing traffic – They help manage traffic flow around the accident scene to prevent further accidents and ensure public safety.

  • Preserving evidence – Police officers may take photographs, gather physical evidence, and secure the accident scene to preserve evidence for later investigations or legal cases.

  • Coordinating with other agencies – In serious accidents, they may work with other agencies such as the fire department or emergency medical services to provide a comprehensive response.

  • Testifying in court – Police officers may be called to testify in legal proceedings to provide their expert opinion and evidence about the accident.

Accident Reports

One of the most common undertakings for the police after a motor vehicle accident is creating an accident report detailing the circumstances of the accident. These reports are important for the claims process, but under Florida law are not admissible in court.

While they may make an initial determination of fault for a traffic crash based on their investigation at the scene, this determination is not legally binding and is subject to review and adjustment by:

  • Insurance companies
  • Legal authorities
  • the Court, if necessary

The police’s determination of fault is based on their observations, interviews with involved parties and witnesses, and any evidence available at the scene. It can be used as an important piece of evidence in insurance claims and legal proceedings, but it is not the final say.

In the end, insurance companies often determine fault in the claims process, but if there are disagreements, parties can go to court for a final decision. The police’s assessment of fault is important but not the only deciding factor. Ultimately, this is important because the claims process will be against the at-fault parties.

Claims Process After a Fort Lauderdale Motor Vehicle Accident

Every accident in Fort Lauderdale is different, carrying its own outcomes and circumstances. That said, the claims process relating to these accidents are fairly uniform. They’ll usually involve either an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. One way or the other, though, an insurance company is going to be involved.

The first step in the process is usually filing an insurance claim. Negotiating with the insurance company before going to court has benefits:

  • It saves money on court costs and additional attorney fees.
  • You’re likely to receive compensation faster.
  • Less paperwork and time-consuming hassle.
  • A clearer understanding of your claim’s value.

However, settling out of court has drawbacks:

  • The process may be prolonged by the insurance company, affecting your finances.
  • The insurance company decides your claim’s value.
  • The settlement may not cover all damages.

You don’t have to accept the initial settlement. With the help of our dedicated Fort Lauderdale motor vehicle accident lawyers, you can seek financial support for various damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Typically, these damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Vehicle damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life or companionship
  • Wrongful death expenses, in the event of a fatal accident
  • Punitive damages, in some cases

Remember, the amount of damages you recover depends on your case’s specifics. Florida follows “comparative negligence,” meaning recovery is reduced based on your fault percentage. While it’s not a requirement, working with our team can help you in a variety of ways throughout the process.

How Our Fort Lauderdale Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers Can Help You

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident, from missed work to injury recovery and vehicle repairs, can be overwhelming. That’s where our firm steps in to alleviate this burden for you and your family. With our extensive experience, we’ve assisted numerous clients across Fort Lauderdale, following a proven system for success, which includes:

  • Investigating the accident – We thoroughly analyze all factors contributing to the accident, such as common causes like speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, and drowsy driving.

  • Collecting crucial evidence – We gather essential evidence, including accident scene photos, documentation of injuries and property damage, as well as your relevant medical records, bills, and receipts.

  • Interviewing witnesses and experts – We reach out to witnesses who can provide valuable insights and may consult medical experts or reconstructionists to strengthen your case.

  • Handling communications – We take the lead in communicating with the defendant’s insurance company and legal representatives, ensuring your interests are safeguarded against tactics that could undermine your case.

  • Maximizing your results – Our skilled lawyers work tirelessly, whether through negotiation or litigation, to secure the best possible outcomes. We aim for a fair settlement or jury award on your behalf.

When you choose to pursue a car accident claim, our team is dedicated to working on your behalf. In addition to our legal services, we meticulously calculate your expenses to ensure you receive full and equitable financial support from the responsible party for your motor vehicle accident.

Cowen Edwards Can Help You After a Fort Lauderdale Accident

When you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident in Fort Lauderdale, you’ll probably be searching for answers. At Cowen Edwards, we prioritize your well-being and strive to secure full compensation from the at-fault party. While motor vehicle accidents are unfortunately common, you don’t have to face it alone. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.